Experience the Dunes on Horseback - Think Dunes - Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Experience the Dunes on Horseback

General News|October 19th, 2022

As the season comes to an end for the ORV users, November brings unique opportunity for a completely different experience riding the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Michigan Shoreline Horse Friends and Michigan Equine Trails have worked in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Silver Lake State Park to create a new horseback riding season.

Imagine riding along miles of sandy shoreline or cresting the majestic dunes atop your horse with a spectacular view of Lake Michigan. Silver Lake State Park is offering this new season in hope of exposing the majesty of the dunes to a new audience of riders. With access for the entire month of November, this is a great way to attract horseback riding enthusiasts from all over Michigan and the Midwest to gather and take advantage of this unique opportunity. Those interested in participating can text “TROT” to 80888 to be notified of upcoming opportunities.

People on horses lined up on the dunes


These rides are for those that are able to bring their own horses. There are currently no horse rentals available, however Michigan Horse Trails Directory online can help you find horse rental opportunities throughout Michigan and horse trails, camping, events, and volunteer horse friends groups: http://michiganhorsetrails.com/

People running horses at the lakeshore

Bringing an Idea to Life

Jenny Cook, and members of the Michigan Equine Trails Subcommittee, had been seeking an opportunity to create a horseback riding opportunity along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Cook identified Silver Lake State Park as a potential site for these rides and she and her committee worked with the MDNR performing several private and public pilot rides to give the idea a try. The trial was successful and the 2021 season was the first official posting of horseback access to the dunes for the first two weeks of November. In 2022, the season was extended to include the entire month of November.

People walking horse to the dunes

Overnight Stays

If you are traveling overnight with horses, there are nearby camping accommodations available.

Oceana County Fairgrounds 1025 S State St, Hart, MI, 49420 email: [email protected] can accommodate horses with box stalls and horse camping.

Double JJ Resort in Rothbury is just miles from Silver Lake (231)894-4444 – Featuring miles of trails, modern camping sites with electric and water (if above freezing).  Log homes, family cabins, boarding stalls and paddocks, outdoor arena with bleachers, indoor waterpark, restaurant, weekend activities.

Whiskey Creek Campground http://www.whiskeycreekcamp.com/ (231)898-2030, 240 acres of 6 miles of trails linking with 22,000 acres of Manistee National Forest with hundreds of miles of trails. 5 or 6 horse campsites with amenities, water (if above freezing).

People on horse riding horses on the dunes

Dunes Horseback Season Details:

  • DNR Shoreline Horseback Riding link for reservations and more information: https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/things-to-do/horseback-riding/shoreline-riding
  • Participants must bring their own horses.
  • Parking Reservations will be offered from the MDNR for a limited number of participants.
  • Participants will be allowed to travel the most direct dune route across the ORV dunes starting at the ORV Dune Exit Ramp, 1.1 miles of ORV dunes to approximately 3 miles of Silver Lake State Park Lake Michigan shoreline.
  • Please be sure you have a Recreation Passport on your vehicle: https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/buy-and-apply/rec-pp
  • If you do not have a $10.00/horse parking reservation, please park (without horses) in the Silver Lake State Park Pedestrian Parking Area 8890 West Shore Drive, Mears, MI 49436 when you volunteer.
  • The ORV dune route and shoreline will be kept barefoot ready with dune route manure maintenance.
  • Vault toilets will be available in the ORV parking area and along the dune route.
  • Horseback riders must bring their own water for both themselves, and their horses.
  • Participants are asked to bring their own manure forks and muck buckets to clean up after their own horses in the ORV parking area.
  • The dune route will be maintained by volunteers. Please consider joining the Michigan Shoreline Horse Friends volunteer group to support with donations and/or to volunteer in person. Please email: [email protected]
  • Please refer to the TRAILS SAFE PASSING PLAN: STOP, SPEAK, and STAND BACK for more information about horses and an action plan for when you encounter people with horses.
  • Please text “TROT” to 80888 to sign-up to be notified from the MDNR of upcoming opportunities.

Equestrian route on dunes map

Jenny, and her fellow committee members, thank the organizations and individuals who have helped make these opportunities possible: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Back Country Horsemen of Michigan, Grace Adventures, Michigan Equine Trails Subcommittee (ETS), Michigan Horse Council, the Michigan Shoreline Horse Friends, the Oceana County Fairgrounds, and the Silver Lake/Mears communities.

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